Postseason baseball is returning to Austin. And if the stakes weren’t high enough, the Aggies received an invitation to the party, too.
The Longhorns (37-20, 17-7 Big 12) were selected to host an NCAA regional site for the first time since 2011. They welcome Texas A&M, Indiana and Texas Southern for what should be the easiest sellout in the nation. The regional runs from June 1 to 3 with a seventh game on June 4, if necessary.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a while now. It’s been seven years since we’ve hosted a regional,” redshirt junior pitcher Andy McGuire said. “We couldn’t be happier with being able to stay at home this week and being able to play in front of our fans. … It’ll obviously be a little bit crazy with Texas A&M coming into town, so we couldn’t be more excited.”
Texas is set to take on Texas Southern while the Aggies will open up with Indiana.
Despite two other teams earning a bid to the Austin regional, all eyes are focused on the potential of a Texas versus Texas A&M matchup.
“I think every baseball player or athlete in Texas grows up knowing about Texas versus Texas A&M,” junior infielder Masen Hibbeler said. “Now getting to have it here in Austin, it’s definitely going to be one for the books.”
The Longhorns appeared to have a hosting bid locked up after winning the Big 12 regular season title, but going 0–2 in the Big 12 tournament was anything but reassuring.
Now that the Longhorns have learned they will be hosting, however, head coach David Pierce isn’t concerned about being the first team sent home from the conference tournament in Oklahoma City.
“If anything, we get a fresh air,” Pierce said. “We get a chance to catch our breath. We’ve been at home for three days. We’re more rested right now than teams that played in a championship yesterday. That’s not your goal, of course, but at the same time, if it works out right and (with) us being able to still maintain the host, it can benefit us.”
With the Longhorns getting eliminated Thursday, they will now have eight days between their last game and their opening game versus Texas Southern on Friday night.
As for Kody Clemens, he gets one more shot to put on a show in front of his home crowd. Several photos went viral of Clemens lounged out on second base more than an hour after Texas’ 7-3 victory over TCU to secure the Big 12 regular season title on senior night.
"It's kind of funny. It was senior day, and we thought it was the last game that we play here,” Clemens said. “Then everyone didn't really get that emotional about it. We all had the mindset of we're definitely going to play here again. I just soaked it in out there. The Big 12 championship meant a lot. It means a lot to everybody. I was just super happy to do that for everybody here, especially the fans and this coaching staff. They deserve it and the fans deserve it."
This weekend will mark Texas’ 26th time hosting a regional at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Longhorns’ last postseason appearance at home came in 2014, when they defeated Houston in a super regional to advance to the College World Series.
Clemens and the Longhorns get to play in front of their home fans once again. This time, it’s with a trip to a super regional on the line.